Say what you want about Ubaldo Jimenez, but when the Indians needed him to turn in a solid performance following an eight hour marathon the night before he came through. Big time. His eight shutout innings allowed Terry Francona to rest his bullpen and gave the Indians a much needed boost. The Rays had no answer offensively, mustering only four hits while striking out seven times against Jimenez, and when it was all said and done the Indians were victorious by a score of 5-0.
Jimenez wasn’t the only hero on the day, however. The ageless wonder better known as Jason Giambi was the main contributor offensively. His two run homer in the bottom of the second would prove to be the game winner. His RBI single an inning later would serve as insurance. Meanwhile, Asdrubal Cabrera’s two run home run in the bottom of the fifth was icing on the cake.
For Giambi, yesterday’s game proved that he still can be a valuable asset, even at the age of 42 years old. He may only be hitting .203 on the season, but his five home runs and 19 RBI in a limited role are exactly what this needed coming out of spring training. Giambi serves as a semi-legitimate threat. He may not do anything exceptionally well at this point in his career, but he is still a threat with runners in scoring position and to hit the ball out of the park. In fact, despite his poor average overall, Giambi is hitting an absurd .438 with runners in scoring position.
As for Ubaldo, yesterday’s start was further proof that he’s beginning to figure it out. He may not be the same pitcher he once was with a 100+ mph fastball and lightning quick breaking stuff, but he’s learning how to use what he has and is using it effectively. He now has 8 quality starts on the year and 3 clunkers, far exceeding anyone’s best expectations for him in 2013. If he keeps this up, there is no guessing how far this Indians team can go.
The Indians will look to take the series from the Rays this afternoon when Zach McAllister takes on Jeremy Hellickson. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05. With yesterday’s win, the Indians kept pace with the first place Detroit Tigers and head into today’s game trailing them by only a half game.
The Good: Ubaldo, Ubaldo, UBALDO!!! Seriously, how good was Ubaldo Jimenez yesterday? Eight innings pitched, fours hits, and seven strikeouts while only walking one. After Friday’s disaster, The Indians needed a solid outing by Jimenez. This one definitely qualified. Words cannot begin to describe how great Mickey Callaway has been with Ubaldo or how well Francona has managed him.
The Bad: Friday night was awful and could have had a major carry over effect into Saturday. Fortunately, the late night only seemed to effect the Rays.
The “Huh?”: Not arguing with the decision, but it was surprising that Francona didn’t allow Jimenez to pitch the ninth inning. Typically the manager would allow the starter to try and get the complete game and then pull him once someone reached base. Francona decided to avoid that all together and brought in Vinnie Pestano to close things out in the non-save situation.